I know I’ve mentioned this briefly before but it is important enough that the topic deserves its own post. Stop comparing yourself to others. They are only showing you what they want you to see. I cannot remember where I read this but some very intelligent writer wrote, “Stop comparing your every day, to others’ highlight reel.”
This makes perfect sense. The trouble with social media is that we are constantly inundated with every moment of every person’s life that we choose to “friend” or “connect”, even if we barely know them. I don’t have a Facebook account so I have threatened to simply walk around and shout updates. “I’m having a bowl of cereal!” “My kid did something cute!” “I’m stuck in traffic!”
The point is, people want other people’s approval. They show you their cool vacation photos, but leave out that they fought with their spouse the whole time. They post cute photos of their kid but fail to mention this was the only good shot before little Carter (why do so many kids have last names as first names lately?) threw a gargantuan fit and his face was too red and his eyes were too swollen to get any other decent shots. They show off their new home but hide the fact that they eat Ramen many nights per week because they couldn’t really afford it, though it makes for a nice Christmas card.
I’m not throwing stones here. I’ve done it and so have you. Everyone has. The problem is that we, as a society, cultivate an environment of perfectionism when nothing could be farther from the truth. Ask anyone how they are and the answer is, “great!”. No one is freaking great all the time. No one’s kids are always cute (my goal at 6:30AM is simply to make them look “not homeless” for school….I’m not aiming high here). No one’s marriage is perfect, because well, people are annoying and you and your spouse are no exception.
When you co-parent or parent at all, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other parents. That kid doesn’t look like a ragamuffin, that mother had time to do her hair (usually….because nanny), he runs a successful business, they never have to remind their children to say “thank you”, EVERY FREAKING TIME, that kid gets better grades, that mom had time to make her own baby food, and the list goes on and on. You can cure that by spending time with other people’s children. Just when I’m ready to kill my girls, I hang out with someone else’s kids. I realize, at least my kid doesn’t do THAT. More importantly though, you see that while you are noticing what that parent has that you don’t or what that kid excels in that yours doesn’t, you realize that you are better in other things and your kid is better at some things as well.
I cannot afford to put my kids in a bunch of activities so I don’t have a baseball star. But I do bake/cook with my kids every week and we garden together. I do let them pick ONE activity per season and I go to every game. Our house is not the cleanest but it is very well-organized and my kids can always find what they need. I know that sometimes you just have to SHOW UP. I have to constantly remind my children to say “please” and “thank you” but I they never throw temper tantrums that I see other kids their age throw and I’ve never seen them pass someone who looks upset or hurt without helping them or trying to make them smile. We don’t always have everything we want, but we always have everything we need and I’m OK with that.
What does this mean for you? Stop comparing yourself to others, especially their social media feeds because it’s all bullshit. Put real emphasis on learning to appreciate the things you are good at and improve your self-esteem. High self-esteem is actually knowing you’re not perfect, and liking yourself anyway. See yourself through your kids’ eyes. They love you unconditionally and think you’re awesome. Unless of course you have teenagers in which case they think you’re an idiot (but not really, they just act like it). Be happy for your friends and family without feeling inferior. Everyone is fighting a tough battle because we are ALIVE, and life is tough. If that doesn’t work? Then drink wine and revel in how fat the hot chicks and how bald the popular guys from high school got.